Stroke vs Seizure – Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, Differences

Stroke is a sudden loss of brain function which is caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain.

The brain cells need a regular supply of oxygen from the blood. Soon after the blood supply is cut off, the cells in the affected area of the brain die or become damaged. An individual having a stroke may lose control over their perception, movement, and speech. Also, they may lose consciousness.

This condition is also called cerebrovascular accident due to the fact that it results from abnormalities in the blood vessels or heart, that cause either a hemorrhaging within the brain itself or a considerable reduction in blood flow to some areas in the brain.

According to the CDC, it is the 4th-leading cause of death in the US. There are 2 main types:

Hemorrhagic stroke (HS) – it occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures, spilling blood into the surrounding tissues. The main cause of HS is hypertension, that can weaken the arteries in the brain and make them prone to rupture or split.

Ischemic stroke (IS) – it occurs when blood clots keep blood from flowing to the brain. The blood clots usually form in areas where the arteries have been blocked or narrowed over time by plaques (fatty deposits). This unnecessary process is known as the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

In addition, IS may be caused by emboli or small blood clots which go through the bloodstream. These emboli can come from pieces of plaques in the bigger arteries which break off from clots in the heart.


Common symptoms may include:

  • a severe headache with no known cause;
  • difficulty speaking;
  • loss of vision in one or both eyes;
  • confusion;
  • problems understanding what others are saying;
  • difficulty talking;
  • loss of speech;
  • problems swallowing;
  • unstable walking;
  • numbness of the arm, face, or leg, particularly on one side of the body;
  • muscle weakness.


Here are 12 factors that can increase the risk of this serious condition:

  1. Having an inactive lifestyle – a sedentary lifestyle increases the likelihood of hypertension, obesity, and high LDL and total cholesterol levels.
  2. Hypertension – it is the biggest culprit behind HS, causing more than 50 percent of them. Also, it can cause damage to blood vessel walls, that may eventually lead to a HS.
  3. Type 2 diabetes – over time, high blood sugar can damage the nerves which control the blood vessels and heart.
  4. Smoking tobacco (including secondhand smoke) – it raises your odds of an HS or IS because it makes the blood pressure go up. Moreover, it causes a fatty buildup in the main neck artery as well as it thickens the blood and makes it more likely to clot.
  5. Narrowing of the arteries – if the arteries become too narrow, blood cells may collect and form blood clots.
  6. Diet – numerous studies concluded that diet is an important risk factor in the development of this condition. Suggestions include – increase your intake of spices, vegetables, legumes, fruits, seeds, nuts, and whole grains, choose fresh rather than processed foods, limit or avoid animal products, limit or moderate sodium intake.
  7. Atrial fibrillation – it is a type of irregular heartbeat. An estimated 15 percent of IS and HS are a result of untreated atrial fibrillation.
  8. Oral contraceptives, better known as birth control pills, can increase the risk of blood clot development.
  9. Excessive alcoholic beverages intake – it can cause heart damage and an irregular heartbeat as well as it can increase the chance of obesity and hypertension.
  10. Sleep apnea — when the oxygen level drops during sleep.
  11. Obesity – it can increase the risk of this life-threatening condition since too much body fat can contribute to hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, plus, it can lead to type 2 diabetes mellitus and heart disease.
  12. Sickle cell disease – it is a type of inherited blood disorder.


There are many methods to prevent and treat the cause of this condition. Some can be treated with surgery to bypass any burst blood vessels. Other can be treated with drugs to break up the blood clots.


Prevention methods include:

Quit Smoking

It is one of the main causes of this preventable disease because it can increase your blood pressure and your risk for atherosclerosis.


High total cholesterol and hypertension can increase the risk of cerebrovascular accident. You can reduce your cholesterol levels and blood pressure by making some changes to your regular diet. You can try to incorporate the following:

  • eat more legumes, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and spices;
  • lower your intake of sodium;
  • avoid or reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats;
  • avoid intake of cholesterol;
  • avoid or reduce the intake of foods which contain food additives;
  • avoid vegetable oils;
  • avoid fast food.

Lose The Extra Weight

Obesity can considerably raise your odds of having a cerebrovascular accident. If you are overweight, losing 10 pounds can have a real impact on your overall health. Aim for a body mass index of 25 or less.

Physical Exercise

Combining regular physical exercise with a healthy nutrition is the best method to maintain a healthy weight. In addition, a regular physical activity can help lower your blood pressure and your total cholesterol levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (like – running or cycling) per week.

Limit Or Completely Avoid Alcohol Intake

Alcoholic beverages cand increase blood pressure and your chance of a fatty liver.

Healthy Sleeping Patterns

Sleep plays an essential role in healing our blood vessels and heart. Ongoing sleep deficiency (less than 7 hours per night) is strongly associated with an increased risk of kidney disease, heart disease, types 2 diabetes, cerebrovascular accident, and hypertension. Between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night is the best, according to studies.


It is the physical change in behavior which occurs after an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. It can cause changes in your feelings or movements, behavior, and in levels of consciousness.

This condition is a common event, with about 4 percent of people will experience one during their lifetime. If you have recurrent seizures, you may have epilepsy.


While the exact cause can be hard to pinpoint, many can be classified as either unprovoked seizure (US) or provoked seizure (PS).

PS is the immediate result of a cause, like – a high fever, a head injury, electrolyte imbalance, medicines (antipsychotics and some asthma drugs), brain tumor, an infection (meningitis), cerebrovascular accident, low blood sugar, or withdrawal from certain tranquilizers or narcotics. It is less likely to happen again and is not considered to be epilepsy.

An US is usually caused by a congenital defect. If a child has two or more US, he is considered to have epilepsy.


During a seizure, you may notice symptoms that affect different parts of your body, including:

  • confusion;
  • shaking or spasms;
  • loss of consciousness;
  • numbness;
  • changes in taste;
  • memory problems;
  • unresponsiveness;
  • inability to speak;
  • sudden vision loss;
  • hallucinations;
  • mood changes.


Your healthcare professional may not start your treatment until you have had more than one seizure. It typically involves the use of anti-seizure medications, including:

  • Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal, Oxtellar);
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol);
  • Phenobarbital;
  • Phenytoin (Phenytek, Dilantin);
  • Zonisamide (Zonegran);
  • Topiramate (Topamax);
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise);
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal);
  • Valproic acid (Depakene).

Stroke vs Seizure – Differences

A stroke happens when the blood supply to a part of the brain is severely reduced or interrupted, depriving brain tissue of essential nutrients.

A seizure happens due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. In some severe cases, it may cause convulsions and unconsciousness, or it may go nearly unnoticed.

Note – a seizure can be caused by a stroke.

Images credit – Shutterstock & Getty

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